Monday, May 28, 2012
Voltaire on the Book of Enoch
Marvellous to relate, we have found that Voltaire, in the article "Angels" in his Philosophical Dictionary, has written about the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch. The following quotations are all taken from The Works of Voltaire (1901 ed., 42 vols., English trans.), a reasonably accurate transcription of which we found on the Internet:
The Hebrews knew nothing of the fall of the angels until the commencement of the Christian era. This secret doctrine of the ancient Brahmins must have reached them at that time, for it was then that the book attributed to Enoch, relative to the sinful angels driven from heaven, was fabricated.
Enoch must have been a very ancient writer, since, according to the Jews, he lived in the seventh generation before the deluge. But as Seth, still more ancient than he, had left books to the Hebrews, they might boast of having some from Enoch also. According to them Enoch wrote as follows:
"It happened, after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them they became enamored of them, saying to each other: 'Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.' Then their leader, Samyaza, said to them: 'I fear that you may perhaps be indisposed to the performance of this enterprise, and that I alone shall suffer for so grievous a crime.' But they answered him and said: 'We all swear, and bind ourselves by mutual execrations, that we will not change our intention, but execute our projected undertaking.'
"Then they swore all together, and all bound themselves by mutual execrations. Their whole number was two hundred, who descended upon Ardis, which is the top of Mount Armon. That mountain, therefore, was called Armon, because they had sworn upon it, and bound themselves by mutual execrations. These are the names of their chiefs: Samyaza, who was their leader; Urakabarameel, Akabeel, Tamiel, Ramuel, Danel, Azkeel, Sarakuyal, Asael, Armers, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Samsaveel, Ertael, Turel, Yomyael, Arazyal. These were the prefects of the two hundred angels, and the remainder were all with them.
"Then they took wives, each choosing for himself, whom they began to approach, and with whom they cohabited, teaching them sorcery, incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees. And the women, conceiving, brought forth giants, whose stature was each three hundred cubits," etc.
The author of this fragment writes in the style which seems to belong to the primitive ages. He has the same simplicity. He does not fail to name the persons, nor does he forget the dates; here are no reflections, no maxims. It is the ancient Oriental manner.
It is evident that this story is founded on the sixth chapter of Genesis: "There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." Genesis and the Book of Enoch perfectly agree respecting the coupling of the angels with the daughters of men, and the race of giants which sprung from this union; but neither this Enoch, nor any book of the Old Testament, speaks of the war of the angels against God, or of their defeat, or of their fall into hell, or of their hatred to mankind.